I got an email the other day from my son’s teacher. My initial reaction was “Uh-oh.” He’s a generally sweet boy and he’s super smart, so it’s rare that I get notes home. But, being a smart kid means that when he does get in “trouble,” it can be a doozie. So, it was a bit surprising and strangely relieving that this was in response to an academic issue. He, along with the rest of the class, had been given a writing prompt and asked to write for 30 minutes about a favorite memory. After 30 minutes, my son had written absolutely nothing.
While my son is like me in many ways, writing has never been one of his strong suits, especially under pressure. He’s got a fair imagination and can tell a pretty good story when he wants to, but putting words on the page has been an issue we’ve had to deal with in the past. The teacher was mainly concerned because this was a pre-test for the real thing, which was being administered for the state. So, yeah… kinda important. When I picked him up that evening, I asked him about it, which caused instant anxiety (another one of his father’s traits he, unfortunately, inherited). I tried to calm him by letting him know that I wasn’t angry. In fact, I knew exactly what he was going through. But, the fact remained that, next time, he had to show effort.
“You couldn’t think of a favorite memory?”
“I didn’t have enough time!”
“You had as much time as the other kids.”
“Didn’t we just go to Disney? You couldn’t write about that?”
“I could have, but I just didn’t know how to start!”
And there it was. My son had just landed on the same problem millions of writers face every day. He didn’t know what words to put on the page, got upset by the fact that he couldn’t put words on the page, which then made it even harder to put words on the page.
“So, what are you going to do next time?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re going to write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Whatever it is. Just write it down. Then follow that with some more words. Just make an effort, ok? You have to show that you tried.”
And, it is both that easy and that hard, right? We come up with a ton of excuses to not write, but often the solution is just writing down what’s on our mind. What part of the story is teasing you? Write it down! Don’t worry about how you’re going to get there, just write down the part that’s in your head at this very moment. Make that effort every day and the story will eventually come out. You’ll figure out the bits in between. Whether you’re writing 100 or 1000 words a day, at least you’re trying and moving forward.
Have writer’s block? Have a great solution for writer’s block? Let us know in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by!